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What is Friendship? Part 2
May 19, 2009 @ 11:20 AM
Friendship is consistent...

This week we're looking at Dr. Paul Dobransky's definition of friendship, highlighting one of his four components each day, with hopes of not only strengthening our current friendships, but also to inform and inspire us as we forge new ones.

He believes so much in his definition that in his book The Power of Female Friendship, he says "When a friendship is failing, one or more of these four criteria is missing. When a friendship lasts and is durable, happy, and organically blossoming... all four of these are well maintained."

So, quality number one: Friendship is consistent.

To become friends, there has to be consistency, a reliability in each other to develop some "regular" pattern of intentionality. It's why we often become friends with people at work even if they're not the kind of people we'd typically choose to hang out with. The fact that we consistently see them, provides that foundation for everything else a friendship needs.

But we don't have to see someone every day to build that intentionality. In fact, consistency is less about frequency and more about reliability.

Even now, with friends that live far away, I certainly wouldn't brag about consistency in terms of how frequently we talk or see each other, but even if the contact is "inconsistent," our time together is consistent. Meaning, I can rely on what we'll be together. I trust that time together. I know what to expect. I know that we can pick up where we left off. But in order for us to pick up from where we left off, it goes without saying that we had to have something to which we return.

In honoring current friendships, consistency of contact is preferred, but it's the consistency of the quality of that time together that is required. It once had to have the consistency of contact that built that reliable quality.

But to start a friendship, consistency of contact is absolutely necessary. We can't pick up with someone what was never created. In meeting new people, have you felt appreciative of someone's energy and found yourself thinking "I would like to get to know her better?" But then follow-up time isn't promptly scheduled. Or it is, but then someone has to cancel. And then it takes a few weeks to reschedule... and by then, unless someone is simply willing to keep pushing for it, and eventually sensing that it's reciprocated, that friendship may have been developed on inconsistent footing, and will most likely, never develop beyond being acquaintances.

It doesn't matter how much you might enjoy being with someone-- if you don't have some consistency on which to build a connection--then you don't have a friendship. This is a big truth to swallow for those of us with busy schedules, spontaneous moods and lots of life priorities. And it certainly doesn't mean we have to connect every day, it simply means we have to consistently keep connecting. The possibility of a friendship has to matter enough to us that we are willing to give it consistency to see if it can grow.

Our Consistency Challenge:
1) Growing Myself as a Friend: Does being consistent come easily for me? If not, what is my biggest obstacle to being consistent with potential friends? Do I initiate connection or rely on everyone else to make it happen? Do I hold to my commitments? Do I make time in my schedule to foster new friendships? Do I go past the awkwardness? What is one action I can take this week to prove to myself that being consistent matters to me?

2) Fostering Friendships: Have I met anyone who has the potential of being a good friend but I haven't yet connected with consistently? Who in my life do I know, that, if given some consistency, has the potential of being more than it is now? What can I do to help give the gift of consistency to one of my contacts?

Here's to consistent friends!

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